New Calendar Will Align Andover With Peer Schools

Following a 120-68 faculty vote in favor of a new calendar proposal, Andover’s 2013-2014 academic calendar will more closely resemble those of peer schools Phillips Exeter Academy, Deerfield Academy, St. Paul’s School and Choate Rosemary Hall. FALL TERM Next year, Fall Term at Andover will end on November 22, before Thanksgiving Break, according to an e-mail from John Rogers, Dean of Studies. Exeter, Deerfield, St. Paul’s and Choate currently run on an equal-trimester system that Andover will implement next year. Andover will join these schools in ending Fall Term just before Thanksgiving Break and beginning Winter Term immediately after returning from Thanksgiving. St. Paul’s equalized their trimesters and began to end Fall Term before Thanksgiving within the last few years, according to Lawrence Smith, Academic Dean at St. Paul’s. This change was part of the school’s ongoing effort to make student life more balanced. Smith said that the calendar change has been well-received by the community. The Hotchkiss School, however, uses a semester system that divides the academic year into four “marking periods,” two per semester. Students receive midterm grades after the end of the first marking period of each semester, but finalized grades are released at the end of the semesters, according to the Hotchkiss website. This year, the first marking period ended on October 27. The school begins its second semester in mid-January after Winter Break. Although Hotchkiss’ first semester ends after most early application deadlines, Hotchkiss students send their grades from first marking period in late October because grades are available online, according to Tom Woelper, Dean of Academic Life at Hotchkiss. The unequal length of Hotchkiss’ semesters and marking periods has presented challenges in grading and course credits, according to Woelper. The first semester is only 80 days in length, while the second semester is approximately 100 days long. Nonetheless, first and second semester grades in year-long courses are weighted equally. “We experimented some years before I arrived with having equal semesters, which would’ve meant switching over sometime in the end of January and it didn’t seem to make sense in terms of the rhythm of the school year,” said Woelper. Deerfield has not deviated from its traditional equal-trimester system, with the Fall Term ending before Thanksgiving, according to Peter Warsaw, Academic Dean at Deerfield. A previous concern was that the end of the Fall Term coincided with the time when faculty members had to write recommendations for regular college application deadlines. However, as nearly 75 percent of Deerfield students apply early, the pressure on the faculty has lessened, according to Warsaw. “As for early college application deadlines, we think of recommendations being due in the first few days of November; Assessment Week is November 14-16. That gives us a bit of time to recover from the [recommendations] before we head into test creation, grading, correction and report writing,” wrote Warsaw in an e-mail to The Phillipian. Warsaw said that the student response to the schedule has always been generally positive, and that the gap between Thanksgiving and Winter Break is productive. “The stretch we’re just beginning, post-Thanksgiving, is one of my personal favorites as, tucked between two vacations, these three [or] four weeks permit students and faculty to dive into the new term. It may be the most productive period in the year,” wrote Warsaw. VACATION TIME Under Andover’s new 2013-2014 calendar, students will have less total vacation time during Thanksgiving and Winter Break. The term will include one more day of school than it otherwise would have, though the number of vacation days will fall from 34 to 31 because students will return for one day of school on the Friday after Thanksgiving break. Andover currently has the second-highest number of vacation days during that time period among these peer schools. Hotchkiss has the most, with 39 total days off. Andover’s new calendar will extend Thanksgiving Break from 10 days to 13 days, and reduce Winter Break from 20 days to 18 days. Most other peer schools follow the same vacation schedule, except for Hotchkiss and St. Paul’s. Because Hotchkiss runs on a semester system, Winter Break, which falls at mid-year, runs for nearly four weeks. St. Paul’s Winter Break is three weeks long. In 2012-2013, Andover has the second-longest Winter Break, second to Hotchkiss. Next year, however, Andover will be tied for third with Choate, with the schools both giving students 18 vacation days. Because Thanksgiving will fall on November 28 next year, Thanksgiving Break will begin on November 22 for Andover.